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Dive Deep With a Single Breath

Cover Photo: SzJanko Photography

The ocean is one of my greatest teachers. Over recent years, I have been fascinated by the concept of free diving and the mental strength and grace I observe in those who practice exploring depths beneath the surface on a single breath. This past March, I arrived in Bocas Del Toro, Panama after spending an adventurous week sailing from the San Blas islands. As I took a morning stroll from the humble place I was staying, I noticed a sign outside of the Bocas Dive Center that read, “Free Your Soul – Try Free Diving”. This sign immediately drew me in, so I walked closer to read the details. I found out there was a yoga class on the water front deck that evening at sunset and that the yoga teacher was also one of the free dive instructors. I went to yoga and it was just what I needed, a wonderful class! I stayed afterwards to chat and found out more about the free diving course details. This led me to extend my time in Bocas by 24 hours so that I could at least take a one day class in free diving. The course blew me away! The instructors Gabrielle and Ariel are amazing humans and incredible teachers. With their guidance, teachings, and support, I made it down to 13 meters in one day! I am super inspired by the passion that radiates from Gabrielle and Ariel and their creation of Blue Chitta. They offer courses, trainings, and retreats all over the world that create space to experience full body and mind potential. Free diving is a fantastic compliment to yoga and meditation and I look forward to training with these two more in the near future. Learn more about this aquatic duo and what they do in the interview below…Thanks for diving deep!

Super excited to join in for the Freediving and Yoga Retreat in Bali //November 11 to 17 2018!

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

Can you tell us a little about your yoga background and how you met?

We both have a pretty strong yoga background, we started practicing about 8 years ago when we were still in the  scuba-diving business. We found something very special in the yoga practice, a deep feeling of inner peace & an opportunity to make the impossible a possibility. Ariel did his first Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Course in 2011 in Rishikesh India and started to teach yoga in Eilat, Israel soon after completing the training. We met in Eilat in 2011 in the dive shop where Ariel was working. I was a dive master at the time and I went to dive the Red Sea on my way to Thailand. We met in the public shower after the dive, he offered me soap and later on tea, we straight away had a special connection. That weekend, I went to my first Ashtanga Yoga Class led by Ariel in Hebrew! I continued my trip and made it to Thailand where I started practicing yoga more regularly in the local studios. A year later, Ariel moved to the same island I was living on (Koh Tao), to become a freediving instructor and started teaching yoga at the local yoga studio. I went to India to do my first TTC with Sivananda and a couple months after I completed a second TTC in Ashtanga and started working full time as a yoga teacher. By the end I was head teacher at the studio, teaching most of the classes from Hatha to Yin with a special love for Vinyasa & inversions. Ari was teaching freediving full time and spending his free time teaching Ashtanga Yoga or giving Thai Massage. We also started to practice and teach AcroYoga, a community based practice that blends the wisdom of Yoga, fire of Acrobatics and love and kindness of Thai Massage. In 2014, we founded Yoga Shak Montreal, a peaceful oasis in the city center of Montreal, a yoga studio dedicated to sharing good vibes through Yoga & Meditation.

You both started as scuba divers? Why did you make the crossover to free diving?

Getting more into yoga brought a change in our lifestyles. The scuba-diving business is very hard work, a lot of sophisticated equipment involved and the day usually ends at the bar at what they call ”Beer O’clock”. It was fun for a few years but after a while we started looking for something else. Evolution is an ongoing process. We would skip ”Beer O’clock” to practice yoga and meditation, we started to feel much more connected to our bodies and realized the power of the mind. When we came across freediving we felt like it was the perfect combination for us; mixing meditation, breath-control, our love for the ocean and offering a much more balanced life-style as well as a sense of freedom. Letting go of our heavy sophisticated equipment just made sense, it was part of our evolution, like a snake letting go of it’s old skin.

Photo: JF Gutierrez

Why do you feel yoga and freediving work so well together?

For us, yoga and freediving are two sides of the same thing, and at the same time are very complementary. The same principles apply in both yoga and freediving; using the breath to unlock the body and the mind to their full potential, creating space between the sensations and the reaction, and moving from fear to trust. They both bring us a deep sense of freedom, inner peace and Oneness. Practicing yoga and meditation is a part of most freedivers’ routine because it enhances their ability to stay calm under pressure, increase their lung capacity and keeps their body strong and healthy. Freediving is like taking the yoga practice into the ocean. The water is a very cleansing element, it brings up to the surface our deepest fears and gives us the opportunity to let them go, creating space for new beginnings and eventually bringing a great sense of empowerment. In both freediving and yoga, we get to let go of what is no longer serving us and to realize the limitless potential of our body & mind!

What kind of experience does one need to start free diving?

None. What we love about the way we teach our courses is that they are adapted to each student. We’ve had students who were terrified of the water…one woman could not even put her face in the water without panicking. With her, we worked on breaking mental blocks, creating new patterns of reaction and learning to trust the ocean. It took a little bit longer but after a few weeks she made it to 24 meters without any stress or fear and with a beautiful technique. Some people just want to learn the basics skills so they can go explore the reef safely and comfortably, others want to push their limit and dive as deep as they can…whatever it is, our general goal is to see some kind of improvement during the course and meet everyone’s individual needs and expectations. Knowing how to swim is a good start, but some people have even learned how to freedive before they could swim! Freediving is such a vast world, there is something for everyone and this is why we can allow ourselves to adapt the courses to each individual.

Can you recall one of your most memorable dives?

One of our best dives was in Mexico…we went freediving with a friend, we took a local boat to the reef and when Ariel did his first dive of the day to about 30 meters, he came back up with four dolphins spinning around him! I could not believe it! The dolphins were so curious, they were talking and singing and playing around with us for about an hour. They were copying our every move, if we would dive they would dive, if we would jump they would jump, spin they spin, it was spectacular! There is something magical with having a connection with dolphins; they establish a very strong eye contact and you instantly realize that they are much smarter than we can imagine. We can hear them communicating underwater with their whistle and it feels like we can understand what they are saying. In the end of the day they are mammals just like us, our bodies are very similar and react with the same adaptations when we dive into the sea on a single breath. I think this is why freediviers and dolphins have a special connection, they remind us that we are all the same, part of a whole, WE ARE ONE! <3
Another spectacular dive was Ariel’s first competition dive in Free2Be Comp. in Eilat. Competitions are very stressful for everyone; organizers, athletes and coaches. This was Ariel’s first competition and he announced a 60 meter dive. As his coach, I was at the surface waiting for him while he was diving down, not allowed to dive with him or else he would be disqualified. This would be an ”easy” dive for him regularly and he’d been going to this depth and deeper many times before, but to dive down alone on a single breath with all the adrenaline and the stress of everyone around was a whole new thing. He had about three minutes to breathe before he went down. The safety team was making sure he was hooked correctly to the line with his lanyard and counting the time down until it was his time to take a big breath and dive down. For the whole way down Ari was alone, leaving the stress and tension behind him, focusing only on his equalization, the present moments and letting go of any unnecessary stress or expectations. At the surface we were counting the time, after about 75 seconds we felt the turn, the safety team went down to meet him at about 30 meters on his way up. I still wasn’t sure if he had made it all the way down or not. Eventually I saw him coming up, as he winked, I knew. Once he surfaced he had 15 seconds to do three things in this specific order; 1- Clear his airway (take his noseclip off), 2- Give the OK hand signal to the judges, 3- Say the words ”I AM OK”. He did it perfectly without any signs of hypoxia or weakness. Following this, he had another 15 seconds to show the judges and the crowd the tag he had picked up at the bottom plate while keeping his airways above the wavy waters. He did all of this like a Boss! He looked so fresh and clean that the judges told him he should have gone for a deeper dive!

Where is your favorite place to dive?

Next to big animals!!! We were teaching in Mozambique, Africa for a while and on almost every dive we would see humpback whales and it was mind blowing every single time! Diving with Mantas in Bali is always EPIC and the dive with the dolphins in Mexico was definitely one of the best! But the ocean is unpredictable and the same spot can look completely different from one day to the another.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We have some amazing retreats and trainings coming up later this year! Discover your true potential in this unique 6 days all-inclusive Yoga and Freediving Retreat by the Sea led by Gabrielle GQ & Natalie Rudman  November 11 to 17 2018 in BALI. You will be breathing a lot; exploring various pranayama that can be applied both in the practice of Yoga and Freediving, connecting your mind and body through Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Flows, eating delicious local vegan food and learn how to explore the ocean on a single breath!

JOIN US!

Learn more about the November Bali Retreat HERE

 
Blue Chitta was founded in 2014 by Ariel Kedmi & Gabrielle GQ, two Nomad Ocean Lovers who want to share their passion for Freediving, Yoga & Thai Massage with the world! Blue represents the infinity of the sea and the sky and the love of the ocean. In India and in the Yogic Philosophy, Blue is a divine colour; the color of All-inclusiveness. Sadhguru says that anything that is vast and beyond our perception tends to be blue & this is why so many gods in India are shown as blue-skinned. Chitta is a sanskrit word that means consciousness or the connection between the Heart and the Mind.  Blue Chitta is about revealing the full potential of our mind, body and soul! Since 2014, Blue Chitta has been offering freediving and yoga trainings around the globe, from Africa to South East Asia passing through the Red Sea and all the way to the Caribbean!  Always looking to create life-changing experiences whether it’s through workshops, retreats, courses or trainings! 
IG/FB / @BlueChitta

5 Soulful Yoga Studios Along the California Coast

I grew up in California. Not on the coast, but in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Maybe this is why I have been so obsessed with the ocean the past 8 years; because it is different, mysterious, alluring. Whatever the case, I have deep gratitude for having the opportunity to explore the ways of the ocean and all of her beauty. In fact, I believe the ocean has been and IS one of my greatest spiritual teachers. Fall is such a special time of year, especially on the California Coast, and inspiration for this article was sparked by my itch to get to the ocean after living at high elevation all summer. An ideal road trip for me includes; visiting friends, surf exploration, day hikes, and taking classes at new and different yoga studios. Some of these towns mentioned below I have lived in, while some I just pass through. All of these studios have touched my heart, have wonderful teachers, and are small studios that are full of SOUL. They are all wonderful places to stop and rejuvenate along or near the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). I highly recommend that next time you are cruising the coast, slow down and make time to take a class at one of these gems.

CALIFORNIA COASTAL STUDIOS…From NORTH to SOUTH:

YOGA TOES, Point Reyes, CA

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This studio is nestled inside of Toby’s Feed Barn in the ridiculously adorable town of Point Reyes Station. It has a warm and welcoming vibe with a great mix of classes. It is the home studio of MC Yogi and his partner Amanda Giacomini. Point Reyes is a glorious town for nature lovers and hip foodies. It has an amazing Farmer’s Market on Saturdays where you can connect with local North Bay Farmers and passionate vendors such as Wild West Ferments. After class, head to the Point Reyes Seashore where you will find an abundance of diverse hikes, beaches, and wildlife.

ENSO, Half Moon Bay, CA

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Enso is a center for yoga and art. Enso is very dear to me as it is the studio that allowed me to really fall in love with yoga. For one year I lived in the area and consistently took classes with amazing teacher, Amy Outman. The studio is located on the coastal trail and has views of the sea. The wood burning stove is magnificent on foggy Half Moon Bay days. The wind and rain are amplified by the tin roof in this 100 year old warehouse structure. It is easy to feel a deep connection with nature while practicing here. They also host an array of community gatherings, art, and music events. Truly a jewel on the coast. After class, visit Raman’s Chai for a cup of goodness.

 

PLEASURE POINT YOGA, Santa Cruz, CA

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Photo: Sawdust Imagery

This is a vibrant, colorful studio on the east side of Santa Cruz. Great local vibes. They have an eclectic mix of classes for all levels. The first word that comes to mind when I think about this studio is: FUN! The studio is walking distance to Pleasure Point surf breaks and many restaurants and shops. Pleasure Point Yoga boasts an amazing lineup of intelligent and compassionate teachers and they frequently feature incredible workshops by international guest teachers. Studio owner, Aimee Joy Nitzberg is a true inspiration.

HARMONY HOUSE YOGA, Pismo Beach, CA

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A heartfelt and cozy studio in downtown Pismo Beach. They offer a variety of classes with a strong emphasis on community. Started by Kelly Metcalf, a traveler, ocean lover, and surfer with strong roots in the area. They also have a really nice boutique with unique yoga and wellness treasures. After class, get a smoothie at Honeymoon Cafe just next door or take a short stroll to the ocean.

YOGA BERGAMOT, Encinitas, CA

(Now GATHER Encinitas)

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Encinitas is known for being a yoga mecca and offers a large variety of yoga studios. This one is a little off the beaten path but well worth a visit! It is a tiny space with a huge heart. One thing that makes this studio so special is their commitment to making yoga accessible to everyone by way of a donation model. Take a class with studio founder Lauren Duke, who is known for her raw disposition and her love of sharing the spirit of yoga. Walking distance to many fun beach breaks, and always amazing weather in sunny San Diego:)

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the committed students, teachers and yoga communities out there. Keep doing what you makes you feel alive and share the love!

NAMASTE.

 

 

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Erica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!

Salty at Heart

“The cure for anything is salt water; sweat, tears, or the sea.”

Here we catch up with Kirstin Thompson, a salty lover and the Editor in Chief at Salty at Heart. Kirstin gives us the down low on the empowering journal, inspires us to make positive change in the world, and gets us stoked on life! Yewwwww!

Tell us about the vision at Salty at Heart…

Salty at Heart began as a vision for a printed inspirational journal that embodied all of the pure, organic, empowering vibes that seem despairingly unavailable in mainstream salty2media. Its foundation is based upon an idea: That you are valuable. You matter. You have the right to be happy, to love, to be free. That this planet is precious. That life is precious. And that all things are connected. The vision is to create a global community, serve as a voice for artists, musicians, writers, environmentalists, surfers, and organizations, and to give a chance for the feminine energy to shine. Since the project began, my mission for the impact of Salty at Heart has evolved into a desire to create a movement towards sustainability and equality worldwide.

How have surfing and yoga influenced your life?

Surfing taught me that I am strong, powerful, graceful, and small, all at once. The ocean and surfing made me realize that I am indeed connected to something much grander than my little life on earth – you and I are connected to this entire, grand, beautiful crazy Universe, and it’s such a wonderful terrible thing. It taught me that despite the challenges I have faced as a woman, there is a place I can feel wild and free – the ocean is one of them, but also within my own heart. It taught me to embrace so many wonderful people, to drift with the wind, and to live by my own standards. Yoga also came into my life right around the time that surfing did, and furthered my respect and love for my body and soul. I have known a few yoga instructors in my life who I can graciously admit inspired me to let go of my fears, surrender to this moment, and let love in. I struggle with pain in my back from nerve damage, and yoga and surfing have both been serious life savers for me when the going gets tough.

Have you ever participated in any kind of yoga trade or volunteering and how did you benefit from it?

Yes, I volunteered at Yoga Farm– a sustainable farm and yoga retreat in Costa Rica. We helped in the garden and around the farm in exchange for yoga and affordable boarding. It was such a beautiful experience, with waves, yoga, healthy food, and great people. I actually met some people there who inspired the formation of this journal!

How do you bring sustainability practices into your daily life?

I do not do as much as I wish I could! When I lived near work I made sure to bike there as well as to yoga class as much as possible, but unfortunately where I am living at thesalty1 moment makes biking impossible. I aim to live somewhere eventually that is bike-friendly. I buy produce from the farmer’s market, use glass re-usable containers like ball jars and glass Tupperware, buy local as much as possible, and look on craigslist or at a thrift store before buying anything new.

Who or what have been your greatest teachers?

Traveling, surfing, the wildness of animals such as whales, dolphins, and wolves, books and words of inspiration from people like Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Ellen DeGeneres, Emma Watson, and Mary Oliver, the wonderful souls I have met along my journey through life, the people who have maintained faith in me over the years, and my crazy beautiful sister.

Anything else you would like to share with the Yoga Trade community…

Surround yourself with people and an environment that make you smile from the inside out. If you look around and this is not your reality, then get out there and find it! This world is a huge place. I know I’m still searching the world over for new and wonderful things – maybe I am destined to be an eternal drifter, but then again, maybe I will fall in love with a place to call my own one day. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you know you are free and beautiful, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

salty3Kirstin Thompson is the Editor in Chief  at Salty at Heart. Kirstin, originally from sunny Florida, graduated with a BS in Environmental Studies at Florida State University and continues to take interest in sustainability and women’s studies. As a freelance writer, surf instructor, passionate traveler, environmentalist, and advocate of all things ocean, Kirstin hopes to inspire others to follow the path of the heart and take a creative approach to life in a way that provides for a free and meaningful existence.

 

 

 

CONNECT with SALTY AT HEART!!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaltyatHeart

Website: www.saltyatheart.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/saltyatheart/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/saltyatheart

 

 

Gratefulness- Kṛtajñatā

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day, we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Don’t take your life for granted lovelies! No matter what you are going through, remember there are millions of us who are experiencing either the same or even worse in their life’s right now. Think of a couple of kilometers away from you, there is a child dying because he or she didn’t have enough water to drink during the past days. We on the other hand, move a single finger and have water pouring down on us for hours and hours! Did you have breakfast today, showered and got dressed for work? You’re lucky! Not everyone has that chance. Hardly even proper clothes for their job or even a job at all. You think your job is hard and you don’t like it? That is fine, quit! Do something you really love to do but be happy you ever had a job.

We are all loving humans, no matter how you express your love but do be aware of the things you take for granted. Don’t take you friends for granted, once they’re gone you will notice what you are without them, or the water you can simply buy in a supermarket. Don’t take your body for granted, every step, should be considered. What if, you wake up tomorrow morning and find out you can’t move your legs anymore? What would you give to just have one more day with them and really, really appreciate them? Go for a run, swim or walk through town with them.

So yes, this might sound “dramatic” and maybe you’ll think “I know, I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before” but have you really been aware of it? Have you changed your thoughts towards gratefulness?
Have you woken up one day, looked in the mirror and said one thing every day which you are grateful for…? So, don’t just sit around and think you are grateful. Say it out loud, even if its just to yourself, write it down, make it real!

After reading this, take your note book or a piece of paper and write down 10 things for which you are grateful for. It can be anything at all. Then, keep it somewhere safe and now, every morning you wake up photo-42and step out of your bed, tell yourself one thing which you are grateful for, for this day.

Love & Harmony

 

 

Danae Borsani a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate blogger (soulseekergirl.com) about what she does best; The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel, and Health. She inspires her readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.

I Believe In Mermaids

I took this picture quite a while ago, at the beach where I grew up. When I was a little girl, my mom always took my sister and me to the beach and we would see this mermaid engraved in a rock, right at the water. It has something beautifully mysterious, peaceful and a sense of freedom to me. Especially because my sister and I would pretend to be a mermaid and swim through the ocean with our feet crossed over, pretending to have a tail and thinking one day we will be able to breathe under the water.

I still believe in mermaids. I was convinced one day I will meet one and she will teach me how to be a mermaid and then I will be able to live in the ocean with her….When we are young, we believed in everything that our mind told us but when we grow up, reality checks in on us and we get to realize that the truth is rarely pure and never simple.We stop believing in mermaids, unicorns, fairies and that there is a treasure at the end of the rainbow. We get older and realize that parents don’t know every answer to our questions (although they still try) and that some people can be mean, unfair, use you and will hurt you at some point. This is the moment in our lifes, we stop believing. We get distrustful, build up doubts and fears and once in a while lose hope in ourselves and our goals. We stop believing in good things happening to us.

Why? Why do we get so fragile and insecure when all that the universe wants for us is to be happy? You can’t blame anyone for your mindset but yourself. Your brain is a such powerful tool and we never stop comparing us towards others. We always want more until enough is never enough. Stop this. Stop it right now. Why would you not have the right to live a happy, successful life, full of possibilities and positivity? Why? There is no reason! Don’t stop thinking big. Do think BIG! Have dreams, be creative, let your mind go crazy with them and let your brain be unlimited into believing you can go further. Trust your instinct and only because the success isn’t spoon fed to you by a teacher or exam, it doesn’t mean you won’t get there because once you actually, with all your heart, start believing in yourself and your abilities, step by step you will get there and you will look back onto your path and realized how easily society can brainwash you into thinking your not worth it.

Yes, you will get hurt and yes, someone will probably break your heart at least once and yes, maybe someone will try and pull you down or stop you from doing what your instinct told you and be so mean that you reallydsc_1790 start doubting yourself again all over, but don’t ever, ever, ever stop believing in mermaids, unicorns, fairies and treasures at the end of rainbows.

Danae Borsani a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate blogger (soulseekergirl.com) about what she does best; The Art of Food, Fashion, Travel, and Health. She inspires her readers towards a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.